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Which food should you buy early in Spain to save on Christmas costs?

In the leadup to Christmas, some produce goes up considerably in price, added to the already steep rise in food costs this year. So what festive food should you buy early to avoid the markup in Spanish supermarkets?

seafood market tenerife
Seafood on display at a market in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Seafood and fish see the biggest price markets in Spain ahead of Christmas. Photo: Michal Mrozek/Unsplash

In the four weeks before Christmas, the average rise in food prices is 11 percent compared to the previous month. With some products, the markup is up to 80 percent the usual price.

When you factor in that Christmas grocery shopping in 2021 was already 10 percent more expensive than the previous year, and that over the course of 2022 prices have continued on the up (15.2 percent higher than in 2021), you could find that having a festive feast will cost you a pretty penny.

According to a study by market experts Aecoc Shopperview, two out of every three consumers in Spain are planning to buy fresh produce several weeks ahead of Christmas to get better prices. 

As the average family in Spain spends €200 on Christmas food, and this year households have paid €830 more for food in general due to inflation, you may want to consider following the early bird approach.

So what food products are marked up the most in the lead up to Christmas?

Spanish consumer watchdog OCU last year analysed the price rise of 15 popular Christmas foods in different Spanish cities and at different points in the weeks leading up to Christmas. 

They found that overall fish and seafood were marked up the most in price. Goose barnacles (percebes) went up by 77 percent, hake (merluza) by 58 percent, clams (almejas) by 19 percent and sea bream (besugo) by 14 percent. Elvers (gulas), prawns (langostinos), scampi (cigalas), spider crabs (centollos) and oysters (ostras) are also renowned for price hikes. 

The general recommendation when buying fish and seafood is to wrap it in cling film or another vacuum sealed option before putting it in the freezer so that it is preserved as best as possible and to prevent it from picking up the smell of other food. With big fresh crustaceans such as lobsters the advice is usually to first cook them before freezing them, but make sure to check the freezing recommendation of the specific product you’ve bought.

“Over Christmas, popular fish such as sea bream, sea bass and monkfish tend to double in price, so buying them now means significant savings,” Jesús Labrador, owner and chef of the Bebola restaurant group, told 20 minutos. 

Prices of meats such as chicken or turkey on the other hand tend to be more stable, with the exception of mutton lamb (cordero lechal), which is highly sought after at Christmas in Spain. 

READ ALSO: Turrón or tangerines? What Spaniards really eat and drink during Christmas

Cold meats such as Iberian ham also become more expensive, as does champagne and cava. Interestingly, pineapple sees the biggest mark-up in the fruit and veg section over Christmas.

Popular nougat treat turrón will also be 10 percent more expensive on average this year, although no mark up in the last few weeks is expected. 

There is one other consideration regarding Christmas food, its prices and its availability this year. 

Spanish hauliers on Monday November 14th began an indefinite strike which in the worst-case scenario could lead to serious food and other shortages over Black Friday and Christmas.  

It’s no surprise that many Spaniards are heading to the markets and supermarkets early to ensure that they get the food they’re after for this Navidad (Christmas). 

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For members


What’s the maximum amount you should have in a current bank account in Spain?

Most people in Spain only have one bank account and use it for all different purposes, but what happens when you manage to save up a bit? Here's the official advice on Spanish savings accounts.

What’s the maximum amount you should have in a current bank account in Spain?

Our bank accounts are used for many day-to-day activities such as paying bills, receiving paychecks and buying groceries, but is there a maximum amount of money you should have in your account at one time? And what should you do if you go over this amount?

While there isn’t an official maximum amount that you should have in your current account, the Organisation of Users and Consumers (OCU) advises that your current account only be used for certain amounts and everything over that should be put into different accounts.

According to the OCU, in your main bank account, where you receive your salary, pension or other significant payments, you should have a maximum of three months of your salary.

So for example, if you earn the minimum wage of €1,000 per month in Spain, then the maximum you should have in your current account is €3,000.

READ ALSO – Ask the expert: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

They advise that you don’t want to go too much under this amount either because you want to make sure you have accessible cash to use when you need it, as well as for possible emergencies. They also suggest checking your account balance regularly to make sure you don’t go into the red and don’t incur extra bank fees.

But equally, you don’t want to have too much in your account and keep all your savings in one place for security reasons.

Savings accounts

The OCU recommends opening a savings account or cuenta ahorro for any amounts greater than three times your salary, rather than keeping it all together in your current account.

Most banks have various types of savings accounts with different interest rates and different fixed terms where you’ll have to keep your money in for a certain amount of time.

For money you’ll need in the short term, but not right away, the OCU suggests putting it into a fixed-rate savings account (cuenta ahorro plazo fijo) for 12 months, but warn that if you need the money before the year is out then you may have to pay fines take it out.

For money that you know you won’t need in the short term, the OCU advises putting it into a long-term investment or a fixed-rate savings account for longer than one year. “For amounts that you don’t plan on touching in the next five or ten years, it’s advisable to make a little profit on it, however, keep in mind there may be seasons in which you suffer some losses too”, they said.

Savings over €100,000

For anyone that has savings over €100,000 in any type of account, it’s important to distribute the amount over various accounts warn the OCU.

This is because during an economic collapse or bank failure, you will not be covered by the EU Deposit Guarantee Fund, which is only able to guarantee the repayment of your money up to €100,000.